Water Ice Discovered on Mercury

01 March 2013, 17:27.

It’s Official! Water Ice Discovered on Mercury

Water Ice Discovered on Mercury

It’s easy to disregard the importance of the programs that NASA has been putting in place, programs meant to check the planets in our solar system and to bring home data regarding their soil composition, properties and so on. One such program is the one which was set to uncover the secret of Mercury, an endeavor which was planned for a long time and which has finally come to a conclusion. The Messenger spacecraft has entered the orbit of the planet to discover vast deposits of ice on the planet, deposits which attest that that one of the essential elements of life are to be found on the planet.

But it’s no easy feat. The spacecraft had to withstand temperatures which exceed 427 degrees Celsius when in the direct path of the Sun, temperatures which are native to Mercury. However, the North Poles of the planet are not in the direct path of the Sun, and, thus, the temperatures there are lower, allowing the ice to form.

What would be interesting to find out is the depth of these deposits. If water is found in its liquid form underneath the layer of ice it could very well mean that the planet might also host signs of life, alive or past. Also, the past of the planet might prove to be more closely related to our own planet, since water is many times a sign of an existing past atmosphere.

The mission of Messenger will linger in the months to come, as the Sun will allow for closer inspection of the pockets of ice and take better measurements. Also, the orbit of Messenger will be directed closer to the surface of the planet in the following years.  What NASA is trying to figure out is the depth of the sheets of ice and thus, if the theory whether it could sustain or could have sustained life in its past is feasible or not.

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